Preseason Conerly Trophy Watch List announced

2022 C Spire Conerly Trophy Preseason Watch list announced Thursday.
2022 C Spire Conerly Trophy Preseason Watch list announced Thursday.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 1:31 PM CDT
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Mississippi Sports Hall of FameJACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - While a full season of surprises awaits Magnolia State football fans, the Preseason Watch List for the 2022 C Spire Conerly Trophy features a few familiar names.

Last year’s winner, University of Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral, has gone on to the National Football League, but five of 2021′s nominees return to their respective schools.

The C Spire Conerly Trophy is awarded to the top college football player in the state at the end of the regular football season.

C Spire has been the presenting title sponsor of the C Spire Conerly Trophy since its inception in 1996 and is proud to continue to recognize the outstanding college football student athletes in Mississippi.

Previous winners of the C Spire Conerly Trophy have gone on to successful NFL careers, including Eli Manning (Ole Miss), Jerious Norwood (Mississippi State), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) and Evan Engram (Ole Miss).

Two former recipients, Deuce McAllister (Ole Miss) and Patrick Willis (Ole Miss), have been enshrined in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

The following is a list of standout players from each football-playing university or college in the state to keep an eye on this season:

Alcorn State University: Coach Fred McNair hopes to return to Southwestern Athletic Conference domination this year and will depend in part on wide receiver C.J. Bolar, linebacker Claudin Cherelus and running back Niko Duffey.

Belhaven University: Running back Kobe Blunt, linebacker Connor Fordham and offensive lineman Kendrioun Boatman are expected to play a major role this season for Blazers head coach Blaine McCorkle.

Delta State University: The Statesmen will be led into the season with quarterback Cole Kirk at the helm of the offense. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end Tim Williams Jr. is expected to be a top producer for Coach Todd Cooley.

Jackson State University: Sophomore quarterback Shedeur Sanders will return to lead the Tiger offense for his father, JSU head coach Deion Sanders, after a record-setting freshman year earned him a spot as a 2021 C Spire Conerly finalist. He will be joined by receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter, the top-rated high school player in the nation last season.

Millsaps College: Coach Issac Carter’s team returns wide receiver Moïse Tezzo, last year’s nominee from Millsaps. Tezzo, a senior out of Texas, also returns kicks for the Majors.

Mississippi College: The Choctaws are expected to have a healthy ball carrier in running back Cole Fagan, a senior transfer from the Air Force Academy. Offensive lineman Blane Cannon will be opening holes for Fagan. Defensive back Nick Walker, a transfer from Illinois, is expected to be a top defender.

Mississippi State University: Quarterback Will Rogers was one of the top contenders for this award last season, and MSU head coach Mike Leach is expecting great things from his junior signal caller. Leading the “Air Raid” offense, Rogers passed for 3,722 yards and 29 touchdowns. Defensive tackle Nathan Pickering of Seminary should be an anchor on the other side of the ball for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi Valley State University: Running back Caleb Johnson, a Memphis native, represented MVSU at the 2021 C Spire Conerly and can be found on several Preseason First-Team Lists and Player Watch Lists for the SWAC this season. Other names to watch for this team include defensive linemen Ronnie Thomas and Jalen Bell and defensive back Caleb Brunson, a Laurel native who prepped at Heidelberg High School.

Ole Miss: The quarterback competition for the Rebels is still underway, with junior Kinkead Dent joining sophomores Luke Altmyer and Jaxson Dart in the battle. Running back Zach Evans and wide receiver Jonathan Mingo also are names to watch.

University of Southern Mississippi: Coach Will Hall begins his second year leading the Golden Eagles with several potential standouts including last year’s C Spire Conerly nominee defensive back Malik Shorts. Other notables are quarterback Ty Keyes, running back Frank Gore Jr. and defensive back Tylan Knight, a transfer from Ole Miss.

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